In the long history of Formula 1 there have been individual episodes that – regardless of the context in which they occurred and the consequences they brought – have become iconic and remain etched in the collective memory. Since viewers watching a Grand Prix from home can listen to radio communications between drivers and engineers, few messages have become more famous than the one between the Ferrari track engineer. Rob Smedley and ‘his’ pilot Felipe Massa during the 2010 German GP. “Felipe, Fernando is faster than you“. Fernando is obviously Fernando Alonso, at the time in the first season with the red suit on.
On 25 July 11 years ago, also thanks to this radio team, Alonso won one of the most controversial races in history, after Massa – even without responding to the indication coming from the pits – he let himself be overtaken by his teammate. The context was that of a very close fight for the world title, in which Alonso had to deal with the two Red Bulls of Vettel and Webber and with the two McLarens of Hamilton and Button. All single-seaters on paper better than the Ferrari one. Before that race, the Iberian was fifth in the championship, 47 points behind the top. In Germany his incredible comeback began, then thwarted by the strategic harakiri in Abu Dhabi, in the last GP of the season.
That overtaking orchestrated from the pits – despite all the clumsy denials that followed – cost Ferrari a fine of 100 thousand dollars. In fact, at the time it was forbidden for a team to give team orders to its drivers. A rather hypocritical bond that was removed precisely following this much talked about episode. The choice of team order, rather obvious from the point of view of Ferrari in terms of the classification, was however much criticized because it effectively took away from Massa what would have been his last career victory, moreover after the Brazilian had led the race from the first lap, striking Alonso at the start and the poleman Vettel, third at the end of the race that afternoon. An episode that Massa himself recently recalled was one of the most difficult of his career.